Scream and Scream Again!: Spooky Stories from Mystery Writers of America

Scream and Scream Again! edited by R.L. StineScream and Scream Again! edited by R.L. Stine

Scream and Scream Again! edited by R.L. StineScream and Scream Again!: Spooky Stories from Mystery Writers of America (2018) is a short-form horror anthology in which “every story begins or ends with a scream,” and its twenty contributors are all members of Mystery Writers of America, an organization “dedicated to promoting higher regard for crime writing and recognition and respect for those who write within the genre.” The anthology is edited by R.L. Stine, himself a contributing author, and the overall age range of its protagonists and general subject matter mark it firmly as suitable for the pre-teen and early-teen crowd.

Two of the authors may be familiar to Fantasy Literature readers — Beth Fantaskey and Heather Graham — and I recognized a few others from scanning the mystery shelves at my local library, though most of the names listed in the table of contents were new to me. Many, but not all, of the contributors write YA fiction in various genres; the “About the Authors” section is a helpful guide for young readers and their parents who may want to follow up on a particular author’s body of work. Scream and Scream Again! provides a wide range of styles and subject matter, from cursed necklaces to a ghost-witches haunting a bayou cemetery to time travel, and while readers might not connect with every story, they’ll likely come across at least a handful of tales that stick with them. (One story revolves around a “gypsy curse,” a concept I find deplorable and unacceptable, and so was the only one I skipped over.) Some of the authors’ voices are uneven, some of the stories try too hard to scare than to tell a good story, and some of them are a little ridiculous — but then again, I’m not the target audience. These days, I’m more afraid of my monthly electric and water bills than ghosts and goblins!

Personally, the stories I enjoyed the most were “Ring and Ruin,” by Steve Hockensmith; “Summer of Sharks,” by Lisa Morton; “Cat Got Your Tongue,” by Wendy Corsi Staub; “The Only Child,” by Joseph S. Walker; and “Kamikaze Iguanas,” by Alison McMahan. They each had solid world-building and striking imagery or phrases, relatable and authentic-sounding narrators, a cohesive plot from beginning to end, incorporated the “scream” theme in a way that felt natural, and, most importantly, contained some key element that surprised me. I’d be willing to read more of these authors’ work on the strength of these stories alone.

Scream and Scream Again! is a solid anthology, and seeing as how a solid 20% of the stories were memorable or stood out in some way to me, I’m impressed. Parents of younger children may want to scan through it quickly to make sure it’s suitable for their readers, as some of the stories may be a little gory or frightening for them, but overall I’d say it’s worth picking up for reading during the month of October.

Published in July 2018. A harrowing array of scary stories that all have one thing in common: each either begins or ends with a scream! R.L. Stine—the godfather of Goosebumps—and some of the most popular authors today bring an unrivaled mastery of all things fearsome, frightening, and fantabulous to this terrifying anthology of all-new scary short stories. Scream and Scream Again! is full of twists and turns, dark corners, and devilish revenge. Collected in conjunction with the Mystery Writers of America, this set includes works from New York Times bestselling authors telling tales of wicked ice-cream trucks, time-travelling heroes, witches and warlocks, and of course, haunted houses. Read it if you dare! With twenty never-before-published scary stories from some of the most popular authors today—including Chris Grabenstein, Wendy Corsi Staub, Heather Graham, Peter Lerangis, R.L. Stine, Bruce Hale, Emmy Laybourne, Steve Hockensmith, Lisa Morton, Ray Daniel, Beth Fantaskey, Phil Mathews, Carter Wilson, Doug Levin, Jeff Soloway, Joseph S. Walker, Alison McMahan, Daniel Palmer, Tonya Hurley, and Stephen Ross—it’s sure to leave readers screaming for more.

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JANA NYMAN, with us since January 2015, is a freelance copy-editor who has lived all over the United States, but now makes her home in Colorado with her dog and a Wookiee. Jana was exposed to science fiction and fantasy at an early age, watching Star Wars and Star Trek movie marathons with her family and reading works by Robert Heinlein and Ray Bradbury WAY before she was old enough to understand them; thus began a lifelong fascination with what it means to be human. Jana enjoys reading all kinds of books, but her particular favorites are fairy- and folktales (old and new), fantasy involving dragons or other mythological beasties, contemporary science fiction, and superhero fiction. Some of her favorite authors are James Tiptree, Jr., Madeleine L'Engle, Ann Leckie, N.K. Jemisin, and Seanan McGuire.

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